HISTORY 238 - Zoom: A History of Everything
Section: 001
Term: WN 2013
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


This interdisciplinary course in “Big History” integrates the human story with its terrestrial and cosmic surroundings while focusing on three key themes. First, it pays careful attention to issues of scale; via the notion of “powers of ten”; by shifting perspectives in space and time through many orders of magnitude. The class proceeds logarithmically, “nesting” each topic within its predecessor. Lectures thus narrow the picture from cosmic groups of galaxies through the solar system and our own planet, ultimately reaching questions of biology, life, and the human experience. Second, each topic offers a different disciplinary perspective, and the course integrates humanistic, social-science, and natural-science perspectives on the wider human environment. Although providing an overview of key notions in the field of world and global history, the course also provides an opportunity for students to see the connections (and tensions) between different disciplinary approaches, epistemological assumptions, and the natural, terrestrial, cosmic, and historical scales of time and space. Third, it focuses on themes of complexity and connection; showing how the universe and earth have their own history. Starting with the Big Bang, these histories have been characterized by the emergence of more complicated aggregations of atoms, molecules, and elements. These new units grew in complexity (but also instability) as they extracted increasing amounts of energy from their environments. Yet just as stars and galaxies ultimately face collapse or a slow demise (via entropy and the second law of thermodynamics), so human society now also confronts a range of resource challenges that are difficult to deny or overcome.

Course Requirements:

Assignments include a midterm (15% of the final grade) and final exam (20%), one short paper (15%) and a web-based assignment focused on how disciplines work and how they connect with one another (30%). Attendance / participation comprise the remaining 20%. Readings average 75-90 pages per week."

Class Format:

“Zoom” is a four-credit course, with three weekly lectures and a one-hour GSI-led discussion section.

HISTORY 238 - Zoom: A History of Everything
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MWF 12:00PM - 1:00PM
002 (DIS)
W 1:00PM - 2:00PM
003 (DIS)
W 3:00PM - 4:00PM
004 (DIS)
W 4:00PM - 5:00PM
005 (DIS)
Th 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Note: Section 005: This section will combine typical discussion activities with "field trips" where we will get the opportunity to see, up close and personal, several museum exhibits, library collections, and research projects, all at U-M, that relate to the fields of study on which "Zoom" draws. Tours will include the Detroit Observatory, the Museum of Paleontology and the Museum of Anthropology (including research labs), the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, the Bentley Historical Library, and the William L. Clements Library. Students interested in this section MUST also enroll in UC 300.001 scheduled for Thursdays 2:00-3:00, forming a single two-hour block. Permission to register for HIST 238.005 and the UC 300.001 sections will be issued together. (See UC 300.001 listing for more details.) Students wishing to register should contact Sheila at sheilaw@umich.edu with their UMID for an override.
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0520271440
Maps of time : an introduction to big history, Author: David Christian ; foreword by William H. McNeill., Publisher: University of California Press [New ed.]
Other Textbook Editions OK.
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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